By Sabriana Raco
Backed by the Drama and Dance Department, seniors Louis Aquilar and Chris D’Amato and their professor created and produced a detective film, “On the Rocks.”
For Louis Aquliar and Chris D’ Amato, the success of their film series “On the Rocks” could not have come at a better time.
Both students are seniors, hoping one day to bring the film to the big city. In a project that began their sophomore year, the drama majors where able to get hands-on look at what it was like to write, produce and act in their own film with the help of Professor David Henderson.
Q: What was your biggest inspiration for the film series “On the Rocks”?
D’Amato: It all began when the premiere of the “Dark Knight” came out. Me, Louis and David had met up during the summer to see the film and while we were waiting on line to purchase tickets, David thought it would be a great idea to create and write our own film. David had been on sabbatical and invested the time and money to help us construct the film.
Aquliar: Another major part of the inspiration for the film came from a show that we do at Hofstra on Wednesdays in the Drama Department called “Cabaret;” it is theater, acting and music. Chris and I had always had the desire to write, produce and act in our own film and seeing it happen was a thrilling feeling.
Q: What were the main ideas and themes behind the film?
Henderson: Much of the film is based around class movies and old black and white films. This was the angle both Chris and Louis wanted. Some of the themes derive from old movies like “Casablanca” and “Third Man.” The movie [has] a detective story line.
Aquliar: The shining star is the main character, Jack Bullet, who is this unstable, depressed character with his own inner problems. His costar is the complete opposite; Sal is this all-around family man who has everything together. It shows how these two opposites are friends and need each other in their life. It has a positive theme because it shows the importance of friendship and having supportive people in your life.
Q: Did you always know that you wanted to pursue a career in the film and theater industry?
Aquliar: Ever since I was little, I wanted to act. I love it all, from theater to films to anything where I perform for people. It has been a passion of mine for a long time.
D’ Amato: I have always enjoyed acting. When I was younger I would pretend I was an actor and act out different roles in my house. My family always gave me support and encourages my dreams everyday, so I am very lucky.
Q: What are your thoughts about the film and theater industry today?
Henderson: Being a professor in the Drama Department, I see many students who have the passion and drive to want to pursue their dreams within the entertainment field. In the Drama Department you have to be passionate, especially when starting out. These students know that theater is not something you get into for the money; you do it for the passion and heart.
Q: While constructing the film what were some of your fears during production?
Aquliar: My concerns mainly had to do with the comedic area of the film. My biggest worry was that people were not going to understand the film; we wanted to be both serious and funny at the same time. In the end it all worked out, so my worries were put to rest.
Q: How did you both handle acting on film? Were you nervous?
Aquliar: If you are going to pursue a career in the theater and film industry, you have to know how to separate your fear from your performance. It’s very natural for me to be on camera. When I would audition for roles, I would say the waiting would get me nervous. Once I would get in there and start acting, my nerves would calm down. I feel it’s like that for many people.
Q: What were some of the funniest moments you can recall from filming?
Aquliar: Going to the three locations where we shot the film. The scene for Jack Bullet’s office was filmed in David Henderson’s dining room. There was a night club scene called the Fat Brass; it was suppose to be this old hip 1930s night club. We filmed it at a spot called “Brasserie Julien”. In Red Hook, Brooklyn, we went into this alley way and we saw a man laying there. We tried to figure out how we could get him to leave so we could film. We ended up giving him twenty dollars and a pack of cigarettes and he left.
Q: What are your plans after college? Will you still pursue film and theater careers?
D’ Amato: Absolutely, I want to take this career as far as I possibly can. I plan to move into Manhattan with a few of my friends and Louis. We are hoping to take “On the Rocks” to the next level and hopefully some producer will like it and use it in film or theater.
Q: Are you looking forward to the Hofstra opening this spring?
D’ Amato: It will be interesting to see how the students react to the film. People who know about the film and understand the theme behind it will appreciate it. For those who do not, hopefully they can have laughs and just enjoy a night of people getting together and having fun.
Watch the pilot episode of On the Rocks and visit their Facebook page